10 : Yet more stealing

On my return I went to work with Mr Glover in Mrs Webb’s wood, and continued to work during the summer with the greatest industry, and earned a good deal of money. Mr Dove, my late prosecutor, employed me at the end of the summer to work in a wood which he looked after, and continued for five weeks, receiving on average about 13s a week.

The wood being finished I had leave given to pick up what sticks were scattered about and after his son had taken away two load, I began to gather the remainder, and soon got a load, which I carried to Canterbury and sold for 15s, but before I could receive the money, I was pursued by Mr Dove and another who charged me with taking away some baker’s wood belonging to a gentleman in the neighbourhood.

They then re-loaded the waggon and drove it to the gentleman’s house, meanwhile I ran off and the same evening broke open Mr Twyman’s stable, from whence I stole a jacket and a pair of pumps. Sold the jacket for 2s the pumps for 1s 6d.







Going then to a match of running at Mersham, I was taken by a constable and carried before a Magistrate, who committed me to St Dunstan’s gaol, 21st June 1788 on the oath of John Dove, for stealing a load of wood, in which I declare there were not three faggots they could call their own.


24 June 1788

On Saturday was committed to St Dunstan’s goal by W S Coast, Esq, John Kirby, charged on the oaths of Joseph Dove, Edward Sundy and others, with stealing and carrying away, out of a wood belonging to W Deedes, Esq, in the parish of Whitstable, on the 18th inst, a load & a quarter of bundle wood, containing about 62 bundles, his property

At the ensuing Assizes I was tried, but it appearing I had leave to pick up the wood, the Judge directed the Jury to acquit me …

,.. and as soon as I came home Mr Twyman employed me in cutting of wheat, till Hopping, when I earned in a fortnight and three days 56s. in picking of hops Being well furnished with cash, I got into company with some of my old female acquaintances at Michaelmas on whom I spent all the money I had got.


11 July 1788

Maidstone Gaol

John Kirby, for stealing at Whitstable, 62 bundles of bundle-wood, the property of William Deedes, Esq. Acquitted.

Mr Strood having at this time an old hay-stack to move, I went to help him. While I was work, Mrs Underdown came to speak to Mrs Pout with whom she lived, knowing their house was left without any one to watch it, I thought it a good opportunity to do a little business there; therefore instead of laying down at noon, which is customary …

…  I went to the house, and opened the window by means of a pane being out, and got into the fore-room, and from thence up stairs and stole thereout a coat and waistcoat belonging to Rich. Atwood, and two chequered shirts which I brought safe off. I sold the coat and waistcoat for half a guinea and the shirts for 4s.


Meeting Atwood the next day, he told me of the robbery, adding he had no suspicion of me, as he was certain I was not absent from Strood’s, besides if it had been me, he was sure I should have cleared the place. You may be assured, replied I, I should not have got off with such few things.

Mrs. Pout & Mr. Richard Atwood

Mrs. Pout was born Ann Massle in 1731. In 1754 (age 23) she married John Pout in Whitstable.

They had a number of children: Ann (born 1756) Thomas (born 1758) John (born 1760) and twin girls, Mary and Sarah (baptised 7 January 1764).

In 1782 John Pout died in Herne, after which time Ann Pout and her twin daughters must have moved into the same lodging house as (or even owned by) Richard Attwood.

Her daughter, Mary, married Robert Ewell (from Swalecliff) on 12 October 1788, and her daughter, Sarah, married Richard Atwood on 18 November 1788.

In 1799 Ann Pout died in Blean age 68.

Young S——d having had at that time, a few words with his father, and going away they had a suspicion that it was he who had committed the robbery,  and caused him to be apprehended and taken before a Magistrate, but not being able to prove any thing against him, he was sent about his business.

Mrs Underdown I understood afterwards was, on that account, turned out of her lodgings.

After that I stole seven couple and a half of fowls at Mr Neal’s Harbledown and sold them at Canterbury for 1s 6d a couple.

Making a little stay with my usual companions until the cash was gone, I repaired to Tyler Hill, and stole four geese from Edward Smith, but was soon after taken while carrying them off, and brought to trial at the Old Castle, Canterbury on Tuesday the 13th of January 1789 ..


Tuesday 11 November 1788

Friday last was committed to St Dunstan’s gaol, by William Deedes, Esq, John Kirby, labourer, of the parish of St Cosmus & Damian, Blean, charged on the oaths of Edward Smith & William Bedwell, of the same place, labourers, with having stolen 4 geese, the property of the said Edward Smith.

.. where I was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for seven years.























13 January 1789

John Kirby charged with stealing 4 geese the property of Edward Smith – Transported for seven years

Transportation as punishment

Transportation for stealing four geese! Let’s look at the use of transportation as a punishment.

“Before transportation most criminal offences were punished by death, a fine or whipping. Transportation provided an alternative punishment for crimes which were considered serious, but not worthy of execution. The usual period of transportation was 14 years for convicts receiving conditional pardons from death sentences or seven years for lesser offences …

With the development of colonies, transportation was introduced as an alternative punishment, although legally it was considered a condition of a pardon, rather than a sentence in itself. Convicts who represented a menace to the community were sent away to distant lands. A secondary aim was to discourage crime for fear of being transported. Transportation continued to be described as a public exhibition of the king’s mercy. It was a solution to a real problem in the domestic penal system. There was also the hope that transported convicts could be rehabilitated and reformed by starting a new life in the colonies.

At first, British convicts were sent to the colonies in North America but that option was halted by the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). The government turned to the vast southern continent that had been claimed for Britain by the explorer Captain James Cook in 1770. Creating a prison colony there would not only solve the problem of where to imprison convicts, but would help to establish another outpost in the growing British empire.”

From the arrival of the first 788 convicts in 1788, to the end of transportation in 1868, 165,000 criminals were sent to Australia for a range of crimes.

Source: Criminal transportation, The National Archives,

This is the end of Jack’s story as he wrote it in the pamphlet. We’ll now look at what happened to him after this point.

> Part 2: What happened to Jack? Writing his pamphlet

Last updated: March 11, 2022 at 15:01 pm